Shocked and Persuaded

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Separating Fact From Fiction

The College Racket

So I wonder if Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton have respective $35, 23, 17, and 16 billion dollar endowments what are they doing with all that money and what for that matter are universities doing with the difference between the 17.2% they earn on investments and the 4.6% they spend? Well we have the folks at Amherst College to thank for the answer they gave at a discussion in September of last year with congressman Peter Welch and Senator Chuck Grassley of Vermont and Iowa, respectively (Lewin 2008 New York Times). They for point of reference spend $80,000 dollars per year on each student…that’s right $80,000! Lotta money huh? Well we don’t have an overwhelming reason not to believe them but like the old saying “The plural of anecdote is data!” and I want the data all of it. I won’t to know, and so should you parents and students, where every penny is going, because I know it isn’t going towards astronomical bonuses like the boys and girls on Wall Street got last year, I mean imagine what this country’s struggling undergraduates could have done with $18.4 billion? I would imagine the response from the administration at Amherst or any other college for that matter would be that they are working to produce the best and the brightest. Well it is true that extremely great and intelligent kids are coming out of our college system, but the disturbing trend is that in the same vain as Warren Buffet’s “ovarian lottery” those kids are coming more and more from a smaller sector of society with the net college cost for familes being 55% of income for the lowest category and only 9-16% for the upper-middle and highest tax brackets. A recent report by the folks at The College Board (ie the SAT folks) found that while median family incomes rose 147% between 1982 and 2007 college tuition rose 439% (Lewin 2008 New York Times). Annual total expenditures currently range from $14,054 for public two-year commuter institutions to $29,193-37,390 for public four-year out-of-state on-campus and private four-year on-campus universities. Overall increases or tuition + room and board for private and public four-year universities rose by 221 and 200%, respectively.

college-tuition-82-to-20073This is not democracy at its finest. Some would argue well hey tough luck! I would reply at some point you will be pushed aside, because if you’re not familiar with what an exponential growth curve looks like you better get acquainted with them real quick. They are nasty and cold critters who make no exceptions and when they peak boy is the corresponding crash an ugly thing. We are a nation that was founded on lifting up those that deserved a fighting chance and want desperately to contribute to present and future trajectories. These people should not be forced to beg inclusion. We need to demand that any and all qualified student have the opportunity to attend college and we need to demand that this charter school initiative not usurp in stature or assistance our public institutions. These types of initiatives start with holding university/college administrations and DC accountable and with asking why it is that the Department of Defense has never been denied a thing in its existence, while education is deemed as expendable a commodity as bottled water.  Where does all this money in tuition go? Exactly where does it go and if we don’t like where it goes don’t we have the right to question the policy and people that put it there? I might reveal my idealism here but I strongly believe that education is not something you go into to get rich and institution of higher learning are not corporations they are conduits for knowledge, facilitators of creativity, and more importantly members of a community. It is high time they engage in transparency and maybe even a little bit of altruism, while addressing the recent increase in town-gown rifts.

Category: Education

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